Review: “Drowning Instinct” by Ilsa J. Bick
Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.
There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)
Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain…magnetism.
And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)
Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are books that stay with you long after you finish them; “Drowning Instinct” is one of those books. In the beginning of the story, we meet Jenna and Detective Pendleton (aka Bob). We know something has happened. We know that Jenna has been pulled from the water, and we know that the detective insists that she’s a victim, but we don’t entirely know why. Until she tells her story into the recorder.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but after reading “Ashes”, I’ll pretty much read anything Bick writes. “Drowning Instinct” is, in all honesty, a story about a group of broken characters. And in this one, there are no happy endings.
Since there are a lot of shocking revelations throughout this novel, I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers. I will say this, in most stories, there is that happy ending. There is a time when the hell the characters go through begins to seize, and eventually, everything is okay. And really, in life, things don’t always work out that way. Bick manages to convey this wonderfully as she explores the personal demons Jenna, her parents, her teacher, and even her school mates are battling.
Jenna’s life is far from perfect – she’s falling apart, all while watching everyone that she cares about fall right along with her. Her family is falling apart. She can’t stop thinking about the feel of a blade pressed against her skin. And the fire. And Matt. She’s created this fantasy, because she knows that if she accepts the truth, she won’t be able to take it. But when Mitch comes along, eager to help her, eager to fix her…Jenna opens up. She allows the fantasy to fall, to face reality, but reality isn’t much better.
The characters are each facing their own struggles. They all want to ignore the truth that’s staring them in the face, because they are fearful of what will become of it. But everyone has a breaking point, and they all manage to reach theirs. It isn’t a happy story. No, in fact, it’s far from a happy story. But I couldn’t put this one down.
I will say this, I will continue to read anything that Bick puts out.
Here’s a quote from “Drowning Instinct” that I think sums up the story rather well:
“Everybody breaks sooner or later, Bob. Anyone can drown. Sometimes you see it. Most often, you don’t because the body protects and the skin hides, so drowning doesn’t look like drowning and some people scar so nicely.
Take it from an expert.”